Being able to steal bases on the baseball field can be a great asset. It can give your team a huge advantage and get the crowd fired up. Building the skills needed to pull off these heists is not an overnight job, however. You need training, along with a little planning and preparation.
Professional baseball player Mike Trout says that today’s athletes have a number of tools at their disposal that can help prepare them to pull off a clean steal. “There’s all this advanced scouting and all these videos on pitchers before the game you can watch. Every little advantage is huge — on deck, watching the pitcher, seeing the leg kick, the tendency.”
Understanding these cues can help you get an extra step toward the bag, especially when the difference between a successful stolen base and an out is often less than a step.
In addition to studying the pitcher and their movements, your base-stealing success can depend on your lead off the bag. “The biggest thing for me is getting a good lead, getting off, getting to where you’re comfortable,” Trout says. “For me, I open my front foot a little bit, probably 60:40.”
Having a solid lead off the bag can help get you closer to your next base from the get-go. Try to take a lead far enough off that you can give yourself a distance advantage, but close enough to the base that you can get back safely if the pitcher decides to throw over to the defender covering the bag.
From your lead, you should be in an athletic stance watching the pitcher for the cues you studied before reaching base. “I’m keying off of that front foot.” Trout says. “As soon as I see that front foot, the biggest thing is getting a good jump.”
Once you see your cue, take that big step toward the bag and aggressively start your sprint. Trout notes not to hesitate or second guess your intent to steal. Having a lag in confidence can potentially squander your chances of reaching the bag safely, pulling focus from your running and slowing down your steal.
“You [have] to tell yourself, ‘I’m stealing this bag,’” Trout says. “If you have any doubt that you’re getting thrown out, you’re probably going to get thrown out, so just stay positive.”
Turn yourself into a bandit on the basepaths and move yourself one bag closer to scoring with these base-stealing Pro Tips.
For more baseball tips from the pro, check out Mike Trout’s situational hitting tips, too.